Call for Nomination Petitions

October 18, 2016

Sierra Club Oregon Chapter Executive Committee welcomes nominations by petition!

Each year a portion of the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter’s elected at-large Executive Committee (ExCom) reaches the end of their terms. Some decide not to run again, others do. The Chapter uses democracy to hold itself accountable to its membership, so we need good candidates to best represent our members’ interests.

The ExCom sets the Chapter’s budget and strategic direction, is deeply involved in the Chapter’s conservation and political work, hires the state director, fundraises, chooses a delegate to the Council of Club Leaders, and approves litigation and electoral endorsements.

To accomplish all of this, the ExCom meets quarterly at different locations around the state to better facilitate involvement of our Chapter and Group leaders across Oregon. There are opportunities to participate remotely in these meetings and there is periodic e-mail and phone correspondence between meetings. ExCom members sit on or chair subcommittees to further contribute to the Chapter’s work and governance. The ExCom also participates in a planning an annual retreat and additional important events throughout the year.

This year, our Nominations Committee has identified five candidates to run for four vacancies on the ExCom. We value the Oregon Chapter membership’s involvement in this process and welcome additional nominees by petition in accordance with our bylaws.

After receiving additional nominations by petition, we — the Nominations Committee — will finalize the candidate slate for this year’s election ballot, which will go out to members in November. Chapter members interested in getting on the ballot by petition must submit a written petition with the names, member numbers, and signatures of at least 1%, or 200, of the Chapter’s 20,000 members in good standing to the Nominations Committee within two weeks of this notice. The Nominations Committee will accept petition nominations until end-of-day November 1, 2016.

Candidates then get space on the Chapter website to advocate for their election in a brief candidate statement.

The four-week election period will commence later in November and close in December.

The four candidates receiving the most votes will start their two-year terms in January 2017.

Have ideas on who would be a great Executive Committee member? Interested in petitioning for nomination as a candidate in this year’s Oregon Chapter Executive Committee election? Send completed petitions or other inquiries to Nominations Committee Chair, Drew Kerr at Please send nomination petitions no later than November 1, 2016.

Thank you!

– The Nominations Committee


UPDATE #2: Portland Fossil Fuel Policy Zoning Heads Back to City Council

October 13, 2016

By Ted Gleichman, policy advisor, Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Team

A governmental journey of a thousand miles begins with scaling multiple bureaucratic mountains – a step at a time.  Portland’s path to Keep It In the Ground – working to ban new fossil fuel storage and export infrastructure – got major trailblazing from the Planning & Sustainability Commission (PSC) this week.  We are now on track for groundbreaking new zoning code amendments.

So please Save the Dates: the mayor has scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, November 10, at 2 p.m., with the City Council votes planned for Thursday, November 17.  As always, please wear red.

The high-level backstory, critically important for carrying momentum through to the City Council, was this: in split votes, the PSC basically rejected false equivalency.  Governmental agencies – like the Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS) – have long felt obligated to balance stakeholders, theoretically treating everyone as equal in a Civics 101 sense.

Of course, some animals were always more equal than others: typically, on zoning, it was developers and business special interests.  But the classic theory that everyone has a valid tale to tell no longer works on energy and sustainability issues, because of the rapidly-expanding climate crisis.

BPS has done some terrific work on this, but it is difficult for an agency to recognize that the fossil fuel industries cannot be allowed to be the deciders any longer.  Thankfully, an educated and courageous majority on the Planning & Sustainability Commission generally rejected the weakest parts of the newest BPS recommendations.  Notably, the PSC unanimously refused to carve out special exemptions from the most important infrastructure limits for Northwest Natural.   Overall, the PSC will be giving the City Council a pretty good road map for this effort at a climate landmark.

There are still some stumble-spots on the trail, of course, and we’ll be working with eco-coalition partners* to identify to the City Council how to smooth those out.  We will give you the full detailed wonk-post in the near future.

In the meantime, if you run into the mayor or a city commissioner at, say, a political event, or the grocery store, be sure to mention that:

 Just like false equivalency has been a core fallacy in our nation’s presidential race**, so too it is a dangerous trap on the path to solving the climate crisis.

The City Council’s core responsibility is to defend the commitments in their November 2015 binding policy resolution to ban new fossil fuel storage and export infrastructure.  Let’s make that happen!

* Columbia Riverkeeper, Audubon of Portland, 350PDX, Center for Sustainable Economy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and many others.

** Sierra Club has endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Beyond Gas & Oil Campaign Work

October 13, 2016


The Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas and Oil Team (BG&O) is doing awesome work throughout the region to  move Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in the right direction—away from dirty fossil fuel extraction, transport, and export. A summary of their ongoing work on gas infrastructure and oil trains is below. Contact Gregory Monahan, Chair of the Beyond Gas and Oil Team, if you would like more information or if you would like to volunteer with the Beyond Gas and Oil Team:


Owing to the revolutionary improvements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology, there are abundant sources of natural gas in the Pacific Northwest which the producers are seeking to get to market, with catastrophic impacts on planetary warming.  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is produced by compressing and cooling natural gas and requires massive amounts of energy to create, resulting in greater global warming impacts. Methanol is essentially another liquid form of natural gas which also requires massive energy inputs to produce. All of these products, while being touted as clean energy solutions are dirty fossil fuels and need to be left in the ground if we are to leave our children and grandchildren a world in which they can thrive.

If you have not already seen it, take a look at the LNG video produced by the 8th grade Sustainability Cohort from Sunnyside Elementary School last year:


Jordan Cove Export Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline Not Dead Yet

The proposed Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal, Pacific Connector Pipeline and associated South Dunes Power Plant live on as a “dead project walking”. FERC has denied the permits for the pipeline and terminal because of a lack of customers and because too few landowners have signed easements. The applicants have filed a “request for a rehearing” with FERC and have been busy trying to create the impression that they now have contracts to sell gas (they don’t) and that they made headway in signing easements (they haven’t). FERC has is not to make a decision on the request for a rehearing until after the November elections. The companies are paying state agencies to continue to evaluate permits (DEQ water quality permits for the 400+ stream crossings and DSL for the lease of public lands). DEQ has a deadline for issuing a decision by Nov 8th while the deadline for DSL is Nov. 10th. The BG&O team is working closely with our allies in the Statewide No LNG coalition to help educate the public about the status of the project and the threat this project represents to both the impacted landowners and to the health of the planet.

Proposed Kalama Methanol Refinery and Export Terminal
methanolThe work to block the proposed Kalama Methanol terminal and associated natural gas pipeline continues with organizing leadership being provided by WA Chapter of the Sierra Club organizer Cecile Gernez and Jasmine Stukey-Zimmer, Senior Organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project was released on September 30, 2016. There are significant information gaps in the FEIS, which is supposed to address the potential effects on the environment from the project. Columbia Riverkeeper will appeal the FEIS. Once the appeal is filed, it will take a few months for the Cowlitz County commissioner-appointed Hearings Officer to make a decision.



Expanded Use of Natural Gas for Electrical Power Generating at the Carty-Boardman Site.


Photo credit: Steve Nehl/The Oregonian

When the Coal to Clean legislation was passed earlier this year, it was with the expectation that Coal fired power sources would phase out and be replaced with renewable energy sources. PGE recently announced its intention to add another Natural Gas powered generator to the Carty-Board man site making this a Coal to Natural Gas transition. The BG&O Campaign is partnering with the Beyond Coal campaign to stop this wrong-headed idea in its tracks. We need to directly transition to a carbon free grid and skip the 30 year side trip that new natural gas powered power plants represent.



meganticMany of the existing and proposed oil terminals and refineries in the state of Washington plan on using the rail lines that run on both sides of the Columbia River through the small towns and cities in the rural areas, through the National Scenic Area of the Columbia Gorge and through the metropolitan areas of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Regardless of which side of the river they run on, these trains represent a threat to the health and safety of the people and environment on both sides of the river.

Trains carrying Bakken Crude have a history of derailments with explosive fires such as the one in Lac-Mégantic. Canada which killed 47 people and demolished the central portion of the town.

Proposed Shell Rail Expansion in Anacortes, WA withdrawn

Shell has withdrawn its proposal to expand its Anacortes Refinery rail siding capacity, which would have resulted in as many as 6 additional explosive crude by rail running through the Columbia Gorge every day.

Union Pacific Rail Double Track Project through Mosier, OR Approved


Photo credit: Steve Nehl/The Oregonian

The Wasco County Planning Commission approved with conditions, the Union Pacific’s permit to double track the rail line around and through Mosier, Oregon. If built, this project will more than double the capacity of the track down the Oregon side of the Columbia River, which would inevitably lead to more crude by rail and coal trains if the fossil fuel industry has its way. Despite receiving hundreds of comments with over


Photo credit: Dawn Faught via NTSB

12,000 pages of submissions in opposition to the project, the planning commission voted 5 -2 to approve the project. Our allies, The Friends of the Columbia Gorge are planning on filing an appeal to the Wasco County Commissioners with a hearing expected before the end of the year. Should that appeal not succeed, the next stop is an appeal to the Columbia River National Scenic Area Commission with a hearing in the summer of 2017.


Southern Willamette Valley Crude by Rail Work Beginning

Interest in blocking crude by oil trains through the southern Willamette valley is increasing in the wake of the derailment and explosive fire this past June in Mosier, Oregon. The BG&O team will participate in a 350 Eugene sponsored Expert Panel on Oil Trains as part of their “Awareness and Resistance” Oil Train campaign scheduled for Nov 15th. Preliminary discussions have taken place exploring the idea of establishing a Statewide No Crude by Rail Coalition loosely based in the successful Statewide No LNG Coalition.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Westway oil terminal in Grays Harbor released on September 30th

This proposed project would be another source of long, explosive crude oil trains running through the Columbia River Gorge. Read the working summary of the main points of the final EIS from the Stand Up To Oil (SUTO) Coalition website. Join with over 600 members of the Yakama nation and urge the Mayor of Hoquiam and city manager to deny permits for Westway oil terminal proposal by using the SUTO web site.

Rally sends clear message to State Land Board: “Keep the Elliott Public”

October 13, 2016
On October 11th, nearly 125 Oregonians from across the state gathered on the lawn of the State Land Board building in Salem to send a loud, colorful, and clear message to the State Land Board: the Elliott State Forest needs to be protected and it needs to be kept public. Governor Kate Brown, Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler are in the midst of a process that could see the Elliott sold off, most likely to a timber company with its sites set on logging some of the last remnant old growth forest in Oregon’s coast range.
Over 100 Oregonians braved the cold and made their way from all over the state. Photo by Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands)

Over 100 Oregonians braved the cold and made their way from all over the state. Photo by Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands)

It was an excellent turnout with a broad cross section of Oregonians that included native Americans, Coos County residents, hunters, anglers, campers, educators, and kids who are growing up with access to the forest.  One of the most pressing and common concerns is the loss of access to the forest if it is privatized. It is unclear exactly how much and how often the forest would be made open to locals and visitors if it was sold. This is just one of the sale “sideboards” that is inadequate or vague. Protection for aquatic habitat would be reduced by the implementation of weak stream buffers from logging and it appears that much of the old growth would be on the chopping block.
Bob Sallinger of Portland Audubon riles up the crowd (photo by Josh Laughlin)

Bob Sallinger of Portland Audubon riles up the crowd (photo by Josh Laughlin)

38 Oregonians testified before the Land Board, and all of the speakers, except one, provided excellent and powerful testimony on the importance of keeping the Elliott in the public trust. One comment that stuck out was by Fregus McLean.  The economic study commissioned by the state land board to determine the “market value” of the Elliott failed to account for carbon sequestration benefits. Mr. McLean, who is running for Oregon House District 7, provided the economic benefit of saving the Elliott for carbon credits.  His figures indicated that carbon credits could be worth as much as $1.25 billion which is six times greater than the “market value” estimate by LandVest Consulting, the State Land Board’s consultant. It is also worth noting there may be a potential conflict of interest by LandVest that should be investigated.

Speaking up for all the salmon who couldn’t make the trip to Salem (photo by Josh Laughlin)

The economic value of the Elliott far exceeds the value of timber if you account for carbon sequestration and sale of credits plus recreation, habitat preservation, coho salmon fishery, and many other attributes. This is on top of the hugely important ecological and climate values that the Elliott represents. The Oregon coast range is dominated by private timber holdings—lands that have largely reduced to monoculture tree plantations with bare hillsides and a steady stream of toxic herbicides being sprayed from above. Oregon’s three largest state forests, the Tillamook, Clatsop, and Elliott are some of the last refuges for threatened coho salmon, endangered marbled murrelets, threatened northern spotted owls, and an abundance of other fish, wildlife, and plants. These forests are also a massive carbon sink that has the potential to slow and mitigate climate change.

All this could be lost if Governor Brown and Treasurer Wheeler don’t step up with a real, innovative, and collaborative solution. It would be a low point in Governor Brown’s nascent governorship. For Wheeler, who begins his first term as Mayor of Portland in January, selling the Elliott would run counter to the progressive policies he has promised. Hopefully, our elected leaders heard what they needed to.  Lon Otterby, Vice-Chair of the Sierra Club Many Rivers Group and long-time forest advocate said, “in all my session with the State Land Board this was the most exciting and effective event I have participated on.” Let’s hope Lon is right!
Sierra Club staff with allies from Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild (photo by Josh Laughlin)

Sierra Club staff with allies from Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild (photo by Josh Laughlin)

Written with significant contributions from Howard Saxon and Lon Otterby of the Many Rivers Group. To get involved in the Sierra Club’s effort to protect the Elliott, email Chris Smith (

Save Our Elliott State Forest

September 29, 2016

Threatened wild coho salmon spawning in upper Lietel Creek, a tributary of Tahkenitch Lake (photo by Jim Yuskavitch)

Governor Kate Brown and the State Land Board are considering a proposal to sell off the Elliottto logging corporations

Located in the Southern Oregon Coast Range, theElliott State Forest is a 93,000-acre state owned forestland containing some of Oregon’s last remaining coastal old-growth. Approximately half of the forest is over a century old. It provides a home to threatened and endangered species, vital habitat to elk, black bear, and deer, and some of the strongest wild salmon and steelhead runs left on the Oregon Coast. Biologists estimate that 22% of all wild Oregon coastal coho salmon originate in the Elliott.

Unfortunately, privatizing the Elliott will almost certainly lead to industrial-style logging of the surviving old-growth, and the destruction of salmon and wildlife habitat. It would also mean the loss of public access to the land – including hunting and fishing – something we treasure as Oregonians.

There are three ways you can get involved in protecting this Oregon gem:

1. Learn More –  Attend a Teach-In on October 4th or 6th in Portland

Sierra Club and Portland Audubon are hosting teach-ins at their respective headquarters. These are great opportunities to learn more about the Elliott and the threats that it faces – details here.

2. Attend a Rally in Salem on October 11th

Rally with fellow conservation advocates from across the state to demand that the Elliott stays in public ownership and its natural resources are protected. Wear green to show support for protecting this critical wildlife habitat for Marbled Murrelets and Northern Spotted Owls. 

When: October 11th, Rally starts at 9 AM

Where: State Land Board Meeting in Salem – Department of State Lands 775 Summer St. Salem OR 97301

RSVP for the Rally and Carpool Here!

Coast Range Forest Watch is hosting a carpool to the rally from Coos Bay – details here.

3. Write to the State Land Board

Click here to take action today and tell Governor Kate Brown, Treasurer Ted Wheeler, and Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins that we will not accept the privatization of our public lands.


New Faces!

September 28, 2016
We are thrilled to announce two new recent hires within the Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club!

magdaMagda Mendez-Martinez  joins us as our new Outreach and Development Coordinator.  In her new role, Magda will be to coordinating and assisting with with chapter fundraising campaigns, membership and volunteer engagement, strategic communications and marketing efforts, as well as capacity building projects to help increase the effectiveness of the Oregon Chapter.
Originally hailing from Mexico City and having lived in Melbourne, Australia for 3 years studying environmental policy and communications, Magda brings cultural competency and a global prospective to Sierra Club. She is fully fluent in English and Spanish, and her experience includes managing an innovation workshop to enhance sustainable practices in Melbourne. She is passionate about climate change and has also previously worked in marketing and communications within the public and private sector performing strategic planning, community and stakeholders engagement, database management and public relations tactics. She most recently interned at Oregon Environmental Council, Living Cully “Verde”, and The United Nations Environmental Programme in New York supporting environmental policy analysis, research, and translation.
Magda can be reached at

alexMany  already know Alex Harris, our new Biomass Organizer. Alex joined the Sierra Club in 2015 to help fight against the wave of fossil fuel infrastructure projects proposed in the Northwest. Since joining the Club he has organized against oil, coal, and methanol proposals in Washington State and helped mobilize resistance to the largest free trade agreement in history: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In his new role, Alex will be working as part of our team to ensure that dirty sources of energy do not replace retired fossil fuel infrastructure, such as coal plants. Specifically, Alex is working to close a loophole currently proposed in Congress that classifies all biomass as carbon neutral, which could have dangerous implications for climate change, forest management, and public health.
Please feel free to get in touch with Alex if you would like to learn more about biomass or if you’d like to get more involved on biomass issues. Alex can be reached at
We couldn’t be more excited for Magda and Alex to join our team! Please feel free to reach out and welcome them to the Sierra Club.

UPDATE: Portland Fossil Fuel Policy Work Moves from F to B-Minus

September 7, 2016

By Ted Gleichman, policy advisor, Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Team

Portland’s Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS) has proposed zoning amendments for review by the Planning & Sustainability Commission (PSC) that are substantially less destructive than the agency’s original plan.  But “less bad” does not equal “good.”


BPS was charged with implementing parts of the ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure for export and storage that the City Council approved unanimously last November.  Their original draft zoning amendments were filled with loopholes, and basically gave the industry an open door to unlimited expansion.

BPS was flooded with more than 700 comments to the draft plan, the vast majority calling for a true ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.

To their credit, agency staff reworked their zoning ordinance proposals with very thorough and diligent staff work.  BPS has now proposed to narrow the opportunities for industry expansion in four important ways:

  1. The new zoning would define “Bulk Fossil Fuel Terminal” as a tank with more than five million gallons of capacity – a tad smaller than the current 300+ tanks in Portland, but still huge.
  2. New Bulk Fossil Fuel Terminals would be banned, but new tanks under five million gallons could still be built so long as they do not include the infrastructure necessary to transload the fuels for export.
  3. Existing Bulk Fossil Fuel Terminals would be defined as “non-conforming uses” – a zoning designation that means ‘they are already here but we don’t want to let them in again.’
  4. Changes and expansions to the non-conforming current Bulk Fossil Fuel Terminals would require approval by a hearings officer after a public hearing.  Any approvals could be challenged in court under land use law (which does not include, for example, increased climate destruction).  Almost all of these tanks are in the earthquake liquefaction zones, on dredged soils along the Willamette River north of downtown Portland – a truly insane place to build or expand anything, but especially not dangerous flammable explosive fossil fuel infrastructure.

The basic problem now is that important parts of these proposals do not yet reflect the clear understanding in the City Council’s binding policy in Resolution No. 37168 to move beyond fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Activists pack City Hall in Portland

Activists pack City Hall in Portland

The new formal proposal will be reviewed by the Planning & Sustainability Commission on Tuesday, September 13, in an open public hearing at 1900 SW 4th Ave., scheduled to run from 12:30-4:30 pm.  You do not need to be a Portland resident to participate in this critically-important hearing!

The PSC will then decide in early October, after an open meeting without additional testimony, whether to forward any zoning amendments to the City Council for review, possible amendment, and approval.  If they do, the Council itself will hold public hearings and vote in late November or early December.

For more information, or to join in as part of the Oregon Sierra Club team in the September 13 PSC hearing, please contact Ted Gleichman,, 503-781-2498.  And please stay tuned!